Camomile’s 30th birthday refit – week 1
Bill has been planning Camomile’s refit for over a year now. The treadmaster on the deck has become badly worn, the woodwork is gradually eroding, the hull has become stained and yellowing and the mainsail has become weakened and torn by heavy duty and UV damage. As she will be 30 years old this year and with the miles we’ve travelled she’s in need of a face-lift. I did an assessment of the marina prices before Christmas and, despite everyone saying Thailand is cheap, it was going to be cheaper in Malaysia. The two options were Rebak marina or Pangkor marina further south. They both had lifting facilities but also both had their pros and cons. The biggest pro for Rebak for me was that it has proper showers, washing machines and a pool to cool down in after a hot day working on the boat, the con is that the internet signal is weak and it’s based on an island so everything had to be on board or brought over on the ferry. Pangkor pros were that it has a reasonable internet signal, Joe had given us a competitive quote to do the deck painting and good shops nearby but the biggest con is that there are no proper showers and only men’s toilets that the yard boys use. Call me a princess but I choose Rebak for our haul out!
So after leaving Thailand early on 30th January (I’m hoping to write a blog on our adventures in Thailand soon) we motored all day and arrived back in Kuah, on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia at 9pm ready to check-in the next morning. Our last week in Thailand had felt like a holiday and now we were back home (?) to get on with some work.
Saturday 31st February
There were a couple of errands to do after we checked in (so easy in Malaysia). Bill bought a length of studding for taking out the rudder and after taking our mainsail off it was taken into Phil the sailmaker in Kuah to see whether or not it was beyond repair as a back-up; our new one was due to arrive within the week. We then motored round to Rebak tying to the pontoon at 7pm.
Sunday 1st February was lifting day. First on the list Bill backed Camomile onto the lifting jetty while the yard boys tied up our lines. We’ve found in the past they always take such care when lifting boats on this side of the world and Rebak was no exception. A diver was sent down to position the strops maybe they don’t do that in the UK because he would need a full wet suit on.
Once every thing was in place Camomile slowly raised up out of the water. I always feel a bit emotional watching her come out; she looks like a fish out of water.
Straight away we could see how mucky her hull was. The Cuprotect is still working fairly well because there wasn’t any serious weed growth just the usual layer of slime and loads of barnacles which the yard boys starting shovelling off straight away. The travel lift wheeled Camomile into the pressure wash area for her ‘bath’.
Meanwhile Bill took our mattress out and rolled the bed up so he could take off the front of the cupboard to start releasing the rudder. The studding Bill had bought was passed through a wooden block and screwed into the rudder shaft to stop it suddenly dropping out. Bill released all the bolts that held it in position.
After about an hour Camomile had had her pressure wash and was wheeled into her new position. We’ve got a nice view of the marina across her bow and the jungle from her stern.
The yard boys brought the forklift in ready to take the rudder out but Camomile was objecting to her ‘colonic irrigation’ and wasn’t going to release the rudder easily.
Bill unscrewed the studding and the boys were jiggling from the bottom but still it wouldn’t move. Bill started hammering on the top of the shaft with the old Hydrovane shaft but it wasn’t having it. There must be something else holding it. Bill did the studding up again to stop it accidentally falling out and did a further check inside the cupboard and discovered a keyway had become fouled. Once cleared and with the rudder resting on the forklift the studding was slowly released to allow the rudder to gently slip down.
Once the forklift prongs were on the floor Camomile was lifted higher in the strops and it was out. Finally the boys could get on with their job of fitting Camomile into the cradle that would hold her steady for the next 4 or 5 weeks.
The strops were dropped and the boatlift pulled away leaving Camomile comfortable in her new bed.
The first thing we noticed were the scratches across the front of the keel from sitting on the reef in Indonesia. No damage but it would need some sanding.
This photo is looking up into the hole the rudder came out of. The bearing will need to come out and it all looks a bit worn.
While I disappeared off to the laundry Bill started scrubbing the propeller with a rotary wire brush and by the time I got back it was nice and shiny Apparently he had found a live oyster growing on the prop.
The prop holds the rope cutter in place, which is our silent friend. We never know whether its done its job or not but we’ve only ever been caught in one net so it obviously does. Bill loves to tell the story that I bought him a stripper for his 40th birthday and it usually raises a few eyebrows until he tells the full story.
Bill got his ‘puller’ kit out and removed the prop without too much trouble; the rope cutter decided to be more difficult. The reason the rudder has been removed is partly to replace the bearings but also to get the prop shaft out.
After Bill detached it from the engine it came out without too much trouble and Bill was able to clean up the P bracket – which he also managed to bang his head on giving himself a nasty gash on the head and renaming it ‘the complete and utter bastard bracket’.
So her rear end looks a bit bare now without a rudder or a prop shaft.
Bill set about removing the cutter from the prop shaft, which took another hour. Time flies when you’re having fun.
And this is why it needed removing. The stuffing box packing has worn a grove, which has been causing bad leaks in the engine bay. We intend taking it to a local machine shop to get a new one made.
Inside the P bracket is the cutlass bearing, which also needs to come out and be replaced.
Bill, of course, had made an invention to remove it. As you can imagine the P bracket unattached to any thing is fairly delicate and the last thing you can do to it is whack it with a hammer, tempting though it may be.
So Bill put together a series of metal tubes with the studding through the middle which when tightened with the clip on spanners gently pulled the smaller tube into the P bracket pushing the cutlass bearing out with it. I’ve suddenly realised all this detail is way too boring but some people might find it useful. That was the end of our first day out of the water. In the evening we sat down to a nice lamb curry that I had made. Our bed was still upside down so we had to sleep in the forepeak.
Monday 2nd February
This is a view of the transom before we started. As you can see the paintwork isn’t in bad condition but all the metal fittings need a through clean and the wood of the bathing platform has gone all green and black. As the transom has always been painted it will need to be painted again so everything has to be removed.
This had Bill back in our cabin removing all the bolts from the inside.
Meanwhile I haven’t been sitting around without anything to do. When Camomile was pressure washed it took all the slime off but left the bases of lots of barnacles that needed to be removed. Not sure if you can see the little white dots in the photo because they are quite small but some of them were stuck fast and needed quite a bit of scrapping. I felt that was something I could do so over the space of several days, in between the washing, cooking, washing up and generally trying to keep things tidy I took every one off with a little scraper and the hull went from this….
… to this.
Bill said to point out that I still managed to find some old shorts to match my crocs!
Inside our bed is back in place and the forepeak bed has now been lifted to store all Bill’s pots and potions. All of this is supposed to be kept cool but with 32C outside and 80% humidity it’s a bit difficult. Luckily we’ve got the air conditioning unit going. This job would be so difficult without somewhere cool to retreat to at the end of the day.
Tuesday 3rd February
We needed to take the prop shaft and rudder bearings to the machine shop on the main island so we joined the 8.45 ferry, which takes about 10minutes, and hired one of Mr Din’s cars. The advert says “ALWAYS starts, usually no fuel, no insurance, cash only 40RM” (£8) and that’s exactly what you get. Our one also had air con and the doors locked! (We’ve had one before that didn’t, neither did the speedo work but as they don’t do more than 40mph it doesn’t matter.) Forgot to take a photo, I’ll take one next time.
We drove to the little machine shop we found at Christmas time and showed the father and son our prop shaft. Bill had made a drawing of what he wanted and took it with him. The son speaks a bit of English but the father very little. There were lots of smiles and ‘can do can do’ which was encouraging. “New year, new year” meaning after the chinese new year wasn’t quite so but he has a lathe and he makes all the prop shafts for the local ferries so fingers crossed. We also gave him our lump of POM bought in Thailand to remake our rudder bearings “can do can do” along with big smiles so here’s hoping. I’ll let you know if we ever see either of them again! We carried on into town to the International shop to buy the paint for the transom, one of the few things we hadn’t bought in Thailand. After lunch we headed back to the ferry, left the car in the car park with the keys in it (NO ONE is going to steal it) and back to the boat.
In the afternoon Bill started removing the lettering with a heat gun and rubbed the transom down. Camomile is now completely anonymous because the sail bag with her name on it was removed at Christmas to be remade. She’s going to look so posh at the end of this refit. I carried on with my scrapping.
At the end of the day the transom looked like this ready for painting. The rubbing strake was new in 2008 so won’t need replacing. Bill has rubbed it down ready for oiling with the rest.
As I said at the beginning of this blog Rebak has a pool. This is our third day here but we haven’t visited it yet. So after we’d finished our work we cycled over to the other side of the island for a well-earned dip in the pool.
Wednesday 4th February
Bill was up early before the sun got too hot to put the first coat of paint on the transom.
After my run (walking jog) and more washing in the machine I carried on with my scrapping, this time on the removed rudder. So as well as router and navigator, chief cook and bottle washer I’m now an expert barnacle scraper with sweat dripping off the end of my nose like a dew drop, at least it’s not a cold dew drop. One of the odd things that happen here is that the hotel does tours of the boat yard so every now and then a golf buggy carrying photo clicking tourists comes by taking pictures of us all – bizarre.
After painting Bill moved onto removing the gold strip and rubbing down the blue cove line. Again we’ve got new ones of these. He has to keep changing sides because in the tropics it’s important to work on the shady side of the boat unlike in the UK he used to work in the sun to keep warm.
Thursday 5th February
Bill gave the transom a second coat of paint and finished off sanding the blue cove line before spraying down the topsides with oxalic acid. This was time consuming because each section had to rinsed before continuing to the next.
In between jobs Bill has been rubbing down all the pieces that came off the transom. This is the bathing platform hardly recognisable with all it’s green slats rubbed down. I finished scrapping the hull and washed down where the boatlift straps had been as the pressure washer missed them.
My next task is to clean all the metal work from the transom with metal polish. It’s a nice job because I get to sit in the shade and chatting to everyone who comes by. Another swim in the pool at the end of the day.
Friday 6th February
The end of the week here. Fridays are the Malaysian Sundays. All the shops are shut on the main island, the yard boys don’t work on a Friday and all the men go to the mosques to pray. It’s also the day the little Chinese man sets up his fruit and veg stall on the Langkawi side of the ferry dock. After my early morning run I joined a group of yachties on the 8.45 ferry to go and see what he had. All the fruit and veggies were really fresh plus he had some frozen salmon and chicken in polystyrene boxes and Easi-yo yoghurt mixes, which are really difficult to get here. I came back all happy to find Bill despairing back on the boat. The hull won’t cut.
We went over to the resort to sit down and have a coffee and talk over our options. Apparently while I had been out he had rubbed down a section of the hull and tried cleaning it with the aggressive rubbing compound we had bought but it wasn’t cleaning up. There are white blotches on the hull from past repair work and they show up against the yellowing of the original hull. Bill had hoped to clean up the yellow patches to bring them closer to the colour of the repairs but it wasn’t working, he said he had been dreading starting this stage because it was make or break time. Do we go to the expense of repainting the hull or do we leave it as it is?